Saturday, January 12, 2008
Minor League Comparables: Clay Buchholz
According to Sox Prospects, Clay Buchholz is like a right-handed Cole Hamels. And I can see why they arrive at such a conclusion. Both pitchers are 6'3'' and weight 190 pounds, and Buchholz is only 7.5 months younger. And both pitchers posses 90+ mph fastballs, notoriously nasty changeups and solid, above average curves.
Then there are a few differences. Clay doesn't walk as many batters. In the minors, Clay walked 2.43 hitters for every 9 innings of work, Cole walked 3.31. Clay's fastball is also about 5 mph faster and his curveball is more developed. And of course Clay has a completely clean injury history, something rather rare for young pitchers.
On the other hand, Cole has much more major league experience. He's also stuck out more batters over his minor league career. Some may attribute this to the fact that he pitched in the Florida State League for much of his minor league career. But I think it probably has to do more with the fact that Hamels pitched less than 50 innings above the Single-A level while Buchholz pitched more than 200.
The difference in Hamels' upper level minor league experience could have made the transition to the majors a little more challenging for him. Although, Hamels did pretty well right away. He had a 4.08 ERA, a 1.25 WHIP and solid peripherals in his rookie year.
If you're looking for the pitcher with the most similar minor league numbers to Buchholz, that would probably be Jake Peavy. Peavy had an ERA of 2.60, a H/9 of 6.83, a BB/9 of 3.18 and a K/9 of 11.31 over his minor league career. Buccholz had an ERA of 2.46, a H/9 of 6.60, a BB/9 of 2.43 and a K/9 of 11.23. I don't think there's a single minor league line from this decade that's as comparable to that of Buchholz's.
Peavy didn't have as smooth a transition to the major leagues. Unlike Buchholz, Peavy struggled in his first major league starts. By his sophomore year, however, he was putting up solid top of the rotation numbers.
Peavy's frame is also similar to that of Buchholz. Peavy's about two inches shorter and 10 pounds lighter. The velocity on Peavy's fastball is more comparable to Clay's however. And he's another pitcher whose best pitch is a plus changeup.
If any of you have more thoughts, or other young/minor league pitchers who you think are comparable to Buchholz, feel free to let me know in the comments. I welcome any suggestions, and am happy to discuss who Buchholz might compare to, or how he may perform at the major league level.